When I awoke I was laying on a sofa and my candle had been relit. The man who had frightened me so was still there and had apparently been watching me sleep. Something in his manner reminded me of Jasper, but I decided that was simply because Jasper often did the same.
“I’m sorry to have startled you. I mean you no harm.”
It was true he did not seem threatening in any way, but I still found no reason to trust him.
“I have no reason to think that you would do this for me, but no one must know that I’m here.”
“Why should do anything for a thief or at the very least a trespasser.”
“I am neither, though I suppose you will just have to take my word on that.”
“Why should I take your word on anything, I don’t even know your name?”
He extended his hand. I took it cautiously. It was the soft hand of a gentleman, not a workman or a cabbie. I looked more closely at him, even more curious now about this man I had found in the attic. He had a fine, thin face with deep brown eyes and hair that needed a good cut. His hand was large, firm and warm. I let him keep mine.
“Very well Mr. Pritchard, I will keep silent, for now. But if the family comes to any harm-”
“Are you the mistress here?”
“Only a governess.”
He startled and withdrew his hand. “The governess?”
“I’m sorry if that is not-”
“You look after the boy?”
“Who else, unless you have children hiding with you as well.”
Gideon smiled at that. “No one here but me and the ghosts.”
“Why are you up here? There are plenty of rooms downstairs, if you have come to see Jasper,”
A shadow crossed his face. “I am sure you would not understand, but I have no wish to see any of the family.”
“I might understand that better than you can imagine. Your secret and your lodging are safe with me.”
“Thank you, miss.”
“Be careful Miss Lucy, very careful.”
I was descending the stairs the following morning, thinking of the warnings I had been given, when I saw Jasper standing on the first landing looking at a portrait hanging there. Truthfully, I was not a great lover of art and since I had no idea who anyone was, I had paid little attention to the family portraits, but Jasper’s fixation piqued my curiosity. I came to stand beside him and look up at the picture in front of us.
“People often say I look like my Uncle. He died just before I was born. What do you think Miss Lucy? Miss Lucy, why do you look so pale?”
I could not speak, the figure before me was unmistakable. Jasper’s dead Uncle was none other than Mr. Pritchard, the man I had met in the attic the night before.